Social Justice Narratives and Their Problems
This is just something to chew on until I am done with my ‘peaceful savage myth’ piece which I am in the process of writing. I have basically said this before in my Fixing American Feminism work but here it is again with some varying points.
Where should I begin?
The nomenclature of the SJW (Social Justice Warriors) is one that rejects newcomers and cocoons its general inanity and meaninglessness in a vocabulary that an idiot might mistake for a real science like chemistry or physics.
You will notice acronyms like ‘POC’, ‘QPIC’, or ‘FHCGNSJADHSNAGAHAJDNFGSHRYUSKAN’ and phrases like ‘the semiotics of race’ or ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’ and wonder to yourself what that could possibly mean and why a ‘coalition’ of people who supposedly fight for freer access to both power and education would seal so much of what they say in an impenetrable varnish of nonsense. Who uses these terms in everyday language? Judith Butler exemplifies this to a golden extreme. Read an excerpt of hers below.
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
This is obvious nonsense and yet we are expected to take it seriously – this woman has won widespread recognition for her ‘work’. She is a professor. This is not a joke.
The Feelings and the Anecdotes
You will also notice that on many of these SJW websites many of the activists like to talk about their feelings and their perceptions. It is often all about their particular interpretation of events and their political vantage point that matters. Somehow these people have come to believe that each and every one of their experiences is so quintessential that it has broader implications and they are duty-bound to ‘teach’ all of us about them.
What is worse, almost all evidence adduced of the largely conspiratorial claims made on these sites is anecdotal. When these anecdotes and perceptions are challenged the challengers are often accused of ‘silencing’ or socially ‘policing’ the SJW. They are accused of ‘derailing’ or ‘colonizing’ the discussion with their ‘white’ or male lens. This does not seem to be based on any kind of logic, simply the identity and stance of the challenger.
The Bashing of ‘Oppressors’ (Bigotry is okay when it is a white or straight male!)
SJW say they are against generalizations and bigotry of all kinds. They even go so far as to claim they understand how all these forms of bigotry intertwine and inform one another. And yet so often the exception goes: if you are a member of the chosen ‘oppressor’ group of the day, sometimes white or male or straight, or all of these together, then it is okay to generalize, satirize, and make a monolith of that group. When did lumping the experiences and identities of tens of millions of people suddenly become not racist?
It has always made me curious how so many young, university-educated people could claim to be ‘oppressed’ and lack opportunity. The United States has a long way to go until it fulfills its potential as a land of full and equal opportunity but how is it that someone with a Master’s in English from a California university or a published author of several books can claim to have no voice in this country? The examples I just gave are real ones and there are many more like them.
Sierra Mannie, in her piece accusing white gay men of ‘stealing’ the culture of black women, actually claims that black people ‘can’t have anything’. Really? I guess she means besides voting rights, property ownership, educations, access to infrastructure, running for office, and their day in court of course. This is not to deny that obvious discrimination exists, but let’s be real about what that looks like instead of exacerbating it.
Even worse is when these same people who can afford to live in NYC or who are in the midst of acquiring a higher education bogart and co-opt the real oppression of their parents or dead ancestors, as though they experienced it themselves. I have read so many blogs by supposed feminists and SJW who have degrees and lead middle-class lives and claim constantly to be suffering from the ‘choke-hold of poverty’ because of their parents. If you have risen in class and education above your parents haven’t you just proven that the country you live in does in fact afford social mobility?
This seems like a strange kind of ‘activism’ to me since it doesn’t appear to be very active. So many SJW are comprised of angry, vengeful-sounding freshmen and sophomores who have never held a protest in their lives. ‘Raising awareness’ as it is often called, is limited and lazy in a world where there have already been 3 or so waves of feminism. Now it is time to act. If you are going to call yourself a ‘warrior’ then go outside and accomplish something more than the circle-jerk parade of activist on activist back-rubbing that seems to comprise most of this so-called advocacy.
The Strictly American Perspective
Though these people love to mention how much time they’ve spent abroad and how many languages they speak, it seems self-evident that they are either lying or ignored everything that happened to them while they were traveling. Intersectionality theory and many of the claims made by American feminists and SJW are limited in scope and perspective and often break down completely when super-imposed on another country and culture. Unlike these people I actually have lived in two non-western countries and I can tell you that in both Russia and South Korea this narrative and rhetoric is both foreign in concept and unintelligible. Hand Butler or Dworkin over to a Muscovite and they’ll use it to point out why Americans are crazy.
The Complete Rejection of Science/Logic
Inevitably, someone on these sites discusses the concept of ‘western logic’ and why it should be mistrusted. I myself have only ever come across one kind of logic and I don’t know what these people are referring to. Too often SJW are not interested in the truth but rather furthering a solipsistic agenda that depends not on real-world facts but on their personal experiences and interpretations of events. One such example is when a girl on one of these sites talked about how her inability to argue effectively with challengers was due to the deficiencies of the English language. Apparently it had nothing to do with her own incompetence, instead it was the entire language that was to blame.
These are the same people who, while pretending to care about the environment, demand the banning of GMO’s but have no idea that not a single study proves them to be harmful – nor do they comprehend the science behind it. Though, for a more on-topic example, think about all the stats these people make up, such as the wage gap which has been disproved a billion times over. Look that shit up. Science is useful only insofar as it furthers their cult of victimhood.
When your system depends solely on the identities and experiences you hold and not on critical thought, facts, or beliefs, it becomes impossible to evaluate an argument on merit. From what I can tell this causes a lot of problems for SJW who often suffer from an interminable identity crisis and are forever collecting ‘oppressed’ identities so that they might use it as currency (another favored term of theirs) against challengers. Invariably the person with the most oppressed identities wins the argument because their experience somehow mean the most.
The Confusion of Racial and Class Politics
One of their greatest failings is the fact that SJW almost uniformly believe that if your skin color matches then so do your experiences and ideologies and feelings. The truth, however, is that this is more the case within class groups. Upper-middle class black women and white women have far more in common with one another than they do with their working class counterparts. This is obvious. One group is economically empowered and therefore more politically so. The other is typically not. The first group can afford branded luxuries, travel, educate their children free of loans, and adjust easily to economic pitfalls, the other group cannot.
Problem oriented, not Solution oriented
You will notice these people typically do not have solutions to the many problems they detail or if they do, the solutions are remarkably vague. This is almost always the case with ‘allies’, a term used for privileged people who wish to further the cause of SJW. Not only do SJW fight amongst themselves but they go out of their way to point out when someone outside the group is racist or sexist, often to the point where these words lose all meaning and substance. Instead of looking for ways to educate and foster understanding, these people usually create more problems than they are ready to solve. And on the rare occasions solutions do arise they are anemic at best.